The UK Taxidermy Guild Conference was the 40th anniversary of the very start of the Guild and managed to draw in some of the past founder members … and good to see old faces, together with a mix of growing new members.
The program consisted of an excellent taxidermy history lecture by Pat Morris – a great display of old faces and old taxidermy; excellent trip down memory lane.
I then did a reverse on the standard Doctor’s Surgery for taxidermy by showing a mounted red-legged partridge I did a day or so prior to the conference with a simple bind-up method and basic modelling. I photographed it at this stage and then altered the bird so it had some of the classic mistakes I have seen students do over the years. We then discussed what was wrong with the bird and more importantly how to put it right. The bird was raffled off that evening.
We then had a talk from the very talented ex-Natural History Museum taxidermist, Ian Hutchison, who is now retired and spends a great deal of time photographing birds. The lecture was a rare treat into how to take some great wildlife photographs; years of experience condensed into a half hour or so. Brilliant.
Derek Frampton, one of the UK’s greatest taxidermists, showed us how he approached making extinct birds from common available species via some great techniques including dying, cutting, crimped, spliced, body part swelling/altering into an outstanding recreation of the extinct ivory-billed woodpecker. Decades of learning just given to all attendees. Many thanks Derek.
The Avian Challenge was hosted by the talented Peter Sunesen from Denmark. We started with a lecture on Peter’s manikin making and wiring techniques, then a great critique on other taxidermists’ work including mine. Peter pointed out many errors I had made, some serious school boy errors; a great learning curve for all. He then moved onto the woodcocks and worked his way through the good bits and the bad parts of all the birds. None escaped his knowledgeable eye for detail. I thought my bird was ok, but it was bombarded with errors – some I knew about and others I had foolishly missed, and was quickly kicked out of the leading birds. The eventual winner was Pavel Viš?ák who won a bottle of wine donated by Peter. All the entrants were then treated to a glass of 40 Year old Madeira; it was really nice and helped lift the spirits of all involved.
The birds I took this year was a Golden Eagle in a stretching pose and a Goshawk chasing a Jay. Neither birds were up to the standards required this year and were not eligible to be entered into the bird competition. So must try harder next year :-).
We had some great tutorials and inspiration from some top taxidermists at the conference. I hope some of there ability rubs off and hopefully, I’ll do better next year.